A Movie A Day: Quint on Hopkins in THE GOOD FATHER (1985) If I ever let myself get angry I could do some real damage.
Published at: July 1, 2008, 12:36 a.m. CST by quint
Ahoy, squirts! Quint here with today’s installment of A Movie A Day.
[For those now joining us, A Movie A Day is my attempt at filling in gaps in my film knowledge. My DVD collection is thousands strong, many of them films I haven’t seen yet, but picked up as I scoured used DVD stores. Each day I’ll pull a previously unseen film from my collection and discuss it here. Each movie will have some sort of connection to the one before it, be it cast or crew member.]
Today’s movie is a the little seen British drama called THE GOOD FATHER, directed by Mike Newell (who would go on to direct HARRY POTTER AND THE GOBLET OF FIRE) and starring Anthony Hopkins, Jim Broadbent and Simon Callow.
Now looking at the video cover, you’d think this was a heartwarming family drama… maybe a little KRAMER VS. KRAMER, but definitely a warm and fuzzy movie.
Wrong. This movie is actually a little creepy. Anthony Hopkins plays a recently divorced man who is filled with anger. He’s scary when he’s angry. He seems to hate his ex-wife and resents his young son, but we don’t know why. He even has visions (really creepy David Lynch-like visions) where his boy is suffocating under a plastic sheet while Hopkins himself presses his face against another sheet of colored plastic, back-lit to make it even more monstrous.
You can see a little bit of Hannibal Lecter in this performance, which completely unexpected.
But even then this isn’t a thriller. Hopkins’ character, Bill Hooper, passes his anger over to Jim Broadbent, another recently divorced father. Broadbent is much more happy-go-lucky, not indulging in his anger. He’s the one who gives the quote from the subhead.
Hopkins can’t do anything to get back at his ex, other than call her names and be a rude dick to her, but when he finds out that Broadbent might have a case to take full custody of his kid he slowly exerts his influence, riding the coattails of the pain he inflicts on this woman.
Reading back over that, this sounds like a much better movie than it is. Newell’s direction is very… British. Stilted, bleak, non-involving.
While the acting is great from both Broadbent and Hopkins, the script loses its way about three quarters of the way into the movie. Suddenly what was nice and subtle now has to now be the focus of on-the-nose conversations.
It’s a very small story and one that I think could have been told better, but I don’t know if they could find people to give better performances. As it stands, it’s not a bad film or one that I found hard to sit through, just one that I think could have been done better and should have been more impacting with the talent they had.
Also look out for a nice turn from Miriam Margolyes as a radical feminist and lawyer (there’s a scene, a flashback, where she’s with Hopkins and his then wife and baby where Hopkins tells her, “I was reading your tits.” And she shows a shirt that says “All Men Are Rapists.” It’s a nice scene, watching Hopkins react to that.) as well as Simon Callow (or the bad guy from Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls) who plays a sleaze-ball of a lawyer.
Not a great film, not a bad one. I wonder if someone would remake this flick. It’s a good candidate. A strong premise that is very much an actor’s dream, but was pulled off rather clunkily in the mid-‘80s.
The schedule for the next 7 days is:
Tuesday, July 1st: SHOCK TREATMENT (1981)
Wednesday, July 2nd: FLASHBACK (1990)
Thursday, July 3rd: KLUTE (1971)
Friday, July 4th: ON GOLDEN POND (1982)
Saturday, July 5th: THE COWBOYS (1972)
Sunday, July 6th: THE ALAMO (1960)
Monday, July 7th: SANDS OF IWO JIMA (1950)
Tomorrow we jump to 1981’s SHOCK TREATMENT following composer Richard Hartley over… I hope his work there is more memorable. As a die hard Rocky Horror fan, I’m quite curious… not to mention how much of a crush I have on Jessica Harper… But that’ll all be covered tomorrow. We’ll see what we’re in for.